San Francisco Giants have the veterans to return to the World Series
11 years ago, the San Francisco Giants surprising won their first of three World Series titles.
After being the first team to sweep the Colorado Rockies at home this season and have the best record in baseball (92-50), this could potentially be the start of another run.
The previous dynasty was powered by pitching with just enough offense to get over the hump. This time around, the Giants are powered by their bats, leading the National League with 212 home runs. It’s the most for San Francisco since 2001, when Barry Bonds set the single season record for homers with 71 and the Giants set a team record with 235. Only the Toronto Blue Jays has more home runs with 225.
In Giants tradition, the team is a hodgepodge of players whom have had previous success and failures. The manager is no exception. Gabe Kapler went from being booed out of Philadelphia to managing the best team in baseball in his second try as skipper.
Evan Longoria fits the bill as the grizzly veteran who has plenty left in the tank. The 35-year-old started the season strong with 9 home runs and a .280 average before being sidelined for almost the entire summer. Since returning, Longoria has been hot, hitting .367 with a 1.095 OPS in his last 13 games.
The Giants added Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant at the trade deadline for a pair of prospects. Bryant made an All-Star appearance this year after hitting 16 home runs and is expected to be the added firepower to put the Giants over the top, like Hunter Pence did for them in 2012. He’s had a cold September but (.229 in nine games) but there is still hope in San Francisco for some postseason fireworks.
Even though it’s been seven years since the Giants’ most recent World Series championship, the core trio of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford is not only still intact but possibly better than ever.
Posey took last season off due to the pandemic and is seems the extra rest has paid off. The 34-year-old catcher is batting over .300 for the first time since 2017 and is three home runs away from reaching the 20-homer benchmark for the third time in his career.
Crawford is slashing a career high .297/.369/.514 and is nearing career highs in home runs (21) and RBI (84), both of which were set in 2015. The 34-year-old shortstop is pair of homers and five RBIs away from setting new marks.
Along with Crawford, Belt’s career began in 2011, the year after San Francisco’s first championship. It’s taken the 33 year-old first baseman a decade to finally hit over 20 home runs in a season. He currently leads the Giants with 23 home runs, 12 of which came after the All-Star Break.
While his career is young, Mike Yastrzemski is not. The 31-year-old outfielder is second on the team with 22 home runs. The grandson of baseball legend Carl Yastrzemski has been a powerful addition to the Giants lineup ever since they acquired him from the Orioles in 2019 in exchange for a minor league pitcher.
The Giants aren’t without a pair of pitchers who have reached their potential. Anthony DeSclafani came to San Francisco after stops in Miami and Cincinnati and have reached a career high in wins (11) and his 3.33 ERA is his lowest since 2016. Kevin Gausman is also enjoying a career year, recording a 2.65 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 170 innings. He made his first All-Star team this season after an eight-year career that started in Baltimore at a time in which the Orioles were actually World Series contenders.
All of this would seem like cruise control if not the for Los Angeles Dodgers in full pursuit. The defending World Series championships are 2.5 games back from the NL West Division lead with a league leading +226 run differential. The Dodgers also have a 15-game lead for the first Wild Card spot, which has to be the largest lead since being instituted back in 1995.
This could lead to postseason chapter in the the long storied rivalry.
About: Tony Capobianco
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